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TV drug dealer Snoop caught by wiretap

THE actress who plays a drug-gang assassin in hit TV series The Wire has admitted drug offences after being caught distributing heroin and marijuana on the streets of her native Baltimore.

Felicia 'Snoop' Pearson was caught by a wiretap in a drug probe called Operation Usual Suspects.

Pearson (31), who shares her nickname with the drug-gang assassin she portrayed on the successful police drama, cut a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to association with a conspiracy that was broken open with the arrest of 64 people in March.

Under the agreement, Pearson was sentenced to seven years in prison with all that time suspended except for the five months already served, most of it at her own home under electronic monitoring.

The conspiracy was cracked after a drug inquiry that itself relied heavily on wiretaps to assemble evidence.

Prosecutors said Pearson allowed money and drugs to be stored in her apartment.

She is subject to three years of supervised probation, but Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill said she would be allowed to travel out of state for professional reasons.

Fans of The Wire were dismayed when Pearson was among those arrested because of her own history of escaping crime, including a conviction of second-degree murder, to shine in her new life of acting.

At the time, David Simon, the creator of The Wire said she "has, from her earliest moments, had one of the hardest lives imaginable,"

"She worked hard as an actor and was entirely professional, but the entertainment industry as a whole does not offer a great many roles for those who can portray people from the other America. There are, in fact, relatively few stories told about the other America."

As she emerged from court, Pearson sought to play down her guilty plea, entered the day before trial was due to begin. Her lawyer, Benjamin Sutley, said: "I can't say she would have been found not guilty," she interrupted, saying: "I would have been found not guilty."

Mr Simon said that the notion that Pearson might be judged by her peers was flawed because there were two Americas, "politically and economically distinct", as the streets of Baltimore illustrate. "I, for one, do not qualify as a peer to Felicia," he said.

"The opportunities and experiences of her life do not correspond in any way with my own, and her America is different from my own."